Wednesday 25 November 2015

Barnabas is Go!!!!!

The big news of the CMM Autumn is the launch of our latest musical, Barnabas.  All of the work put in by Roger and Alison (writing), Annie (typesetting and arranging), Helen and Nicky (admin), Tim (sales), Andrew and George (artwork) and all of the soloists, dancers, singers and instrumentalists came to a head on Saturday 19th September for the official launch.

The launch took place at Shirley Methodist Church, a lovely auditorium with the ideal feature that the choir sit at right-angles to the stage, enabling them to watch both Roger and the action on stage at the same time!  Ticket sales had initially been slow, but by the time the premiere came round there were good audiences for both performances.

Some of the soloists in rehearsal
First, the soloists.  It was a treat to have all of the soloists from the recording of Barnabas singing at the premiere - Bill Carpenter - Barnabas, Devon Brown - Saul, Richard Harvey - John Mark, Ann Steer and Yvette Roberts - Rhoda, and Amy Carter and Catherine Sleight - Miriam.  The soloists did an amazing job on relatively little rehearsal time.  They worked hard to memorize both the lyrics and the narrations and sang brilliantly well.

CDM rehearse song 1
Another feature of the premiere were the dancers.  We were honoured to have the dancers from Christian Dance Ministries take part in the premiere - Sally Taylor, Anna Weddell and Ruth Ditch.  They really stole the show with their comedy dance routine to 'Three men in a boat' complete with an inflatable dinghy and umbrella hats.  They also beautifully interpreted the songs 'Like rays of sudden heaven' and 'O my Saviour lifted.'  Sadly the dancers haven't been able to perform at any of the other performances of Barnabas this autumn, but hopefully they can be involved more in 2016.

CMM Choir in action
The choir at the premiere was made up of two groups.  Firstly the CMM choir trained by Annie Routley and Sylvia Whalley sang for much of the musical, but shortness of time between the publishing of the score and the premiere meant that some of the trickier sections were taken by a group of vocalists, many of whom sang the backing vocals on the CD.  These are known as our 'close harmony group' and are CMM associates who are excellent at sight-singing and blending their voices.  It provided a great contrast to have some songs with choruses sung by the large choir, with smaller semi-chorus sections.

The instrumentalists in rehearsal
We also had three instrumentalists at the premiere - Chris McDouall on soprano saxophone, Annie Routley on viola, and Helen Pollard on flute.  Chris King, the recording producer, had produced a special backing track for the occasion, with all of the solo instruments on the CD taken off.  Soprano sax features throughout the musical, and it was lovely to have it played live at the performance.

Mark and Dave on AV
An important mention must go to those behind the scenes - the sound and lighting team led by Mark Hetherington and Dave Lewis, the visuals produced by George Hicks and operated by James Pollard.  The wonderful team on the door and on the bookstall, the local Shirley Methodist church members, and also the team looking after the refreshments for the choir and technicians.

And Roger conducted well too!

We're so excited to have launched this musical on the world.  It has a brilliant message of hearing and obeying God.

Trust and obey for there's no other way
To be happy in Jesus than to trust and obey

Choir, harmony group, soloists and instrumentalists all in one photo!
Roger conducting
'Three men in a boat' in rehearsal
Choir, harmony group and instrumentalists in rehearsal
Ruth and Sally dancing to 'O my Saviour, lifted'
'Three men in a boat' in performance
Sally, Anna and Ruth stealing the show
Anna dancing to 'Like rays of sudden heaven'
Bishop Michael Whinney, who introduced the matinee performance
The soloists in action during the performance, with George's artwork on the screen

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